NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 27, 2013

Obama joins Oklahomans in mourning tornado victims

MOORE, Okla. — Coming up on a week after the tornado that killed 24 people and destroyed a large swath of the Oklahoma City area, people gathered throughout the community yesterday to pray, mourn and try to make some kind of sense out of such loss.

President Barack Obama commented on how difficult it was to comprehend the damage as he toured the area yesterday, taking in the tornado’s toll and talking to residents, local leaders and first responders.

“Everywhere, fellow Americans are praying with you, they’re thinking about you, and they want to help,” Obama said.

At Southgate Baptist Church, in one of the areas hardest hit by the tornado, the congregation gathered under a pavilion to worship. Although the church itself was intact, debris littered the churchyard and the building had no electricity.

“I think it’s easy for people to be mad at God for what’s happened,” said Noah Hill, the church’s youth pastor. “But what we’ve seen here is how God has protected and cared for so many people.”

The parking lot was still being claimed by volunteer groups, so congregants were waved into an open field to park by Mark Fain, a congregant.

A few stopped to poke fun at the yellow vest and rubber boots he wore.

But it’s not as though most came in their typical Sunday best. Instead, they wore work jeans, shorts, boots and T-shirts. A long day of labor was ahead. If they weren’t working on their own property, they were pitching in to help someone else.

“How you doing?” Fain, a pharmacist, asked one woman driving in.

“Better than most, captain!” she replied.

Gayla and Dick McIntire carried folding chairs. She also had her bible.

“I’m just glad we have a place to worship this morning,” Dick said.

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